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Only Up! A new documentary film to inspire young women to consider careers in aviation.

Updated: Jun 11

By Martin Zeilig

 

Blaire Hamilton is a Formula 1 Air Racer. Here she is in Reno for the air races where she is competing to win the Bronze category. Photo by Kendra Kincade

Only Up, a documentary film created and directed by the Edmonton, Alberta based Honourary Colonel Kendra Kincaid, was screened in the theatre of Building 90 (Sports & Recreation Centre) on May 26 before about 15 people.

 

The Northern Spirit Chapter of Women in Aviation International sponsored the film showing.

 

West Jet captain Kristin Long, who is the president of Northern Spirit Chapter, as well as Chair of Girls in Aviation Day, along with Major Jacklyn Zacher, and Jessica Fichtner, an engineer at Boeing, made a few remarks prior to the film showing and answered questions afterwards.

 

Only Up sets out, as an earlier review (Ben Forrest in Skies online Feb.5, 2024), states to answer a basic question: “Why are there so few women in aviation?”

 

The fascinating and motivating 90-minute film follows several young women as they pursue different careers in the aviation industry.

 

From left: Sar Tech Katherine Hanak, Pilot Pauline McLeon, HCol Kristin Long, HCol Kendra Kincade Photo by Nova Andrews

“Kendra’s journey began with a challenging early life, which ultimately drove her towards a commitment to helping others in their pursuit of self-discovery and success,” says information Ms. Kincaid provided to the Voxair reporter.

 

 “In 2015 she founded Elevate Aviation after recognizing a glaring gender disparity within the aviation industry. Kendra is an Air Traffic Controller with NAV CANADA, Honorary Colonel of RCAF 417 Helicopter Squadron, Board Chair for the Alberta Aviation Council, Vice Chair for the Strategic Aviation Advisory Council of Alberta, and a Director, Writer, and Executive Producer for “Only Up” a feature length documentary following women in various aviation careers. An inspiring and sought-after speaker, Kendra shares her knowledge and experience with audiences around the world.

 

“Her dedication to positive change has earned her numerous awards and recognition including a Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal, the Trailblazer Award from Northern Lights Aero Foundation, 2019 SHEInnovator from Global Innovation Coalition for Change, Woman of Inspiration from The Universal Women’s Network, and Global’s Woman of Vision award. In her personal life, Kendra finds joy in spending time with her partner Corey, her children, and grandchildren.”

 



Blaire Hamilton takes a break at the CZVL airport from formation flying training. Photo by Kendra Kincade

In an email interview with this reporter, Ms. Kincaid said that she made the film in order to empower young women, (and yes anyone) “to recognize their potential” in crafting a life they truly cherish.

 

“As we get exposure to a broader spectrum of possibilities, our horizons expand, presenting a multitude of options to explore and embrace,” she wrote.

 

“And maybe - it might be in aviation.  I started in the aviation industry in 1999. I discovered the career of air traffic control and fell in love at first sight. I knew it was what I wanted to do and I kept working until I finally qualified.

 

“When I discovered my career path in aviation, it provided me with confidence, direction, self-esteem, and self-belief. It enabled me to embrace independence and the belief that I could shape the life I desired. Through this film, my aspiration is to motivate others to dare to dream ambitiously, break free from their comfort zones, and courageously pursue their aspirations.”

 

During an interview following the film showing, Ms. Long noted that she grew up in an airline family.


Kendra Kincade is getting ready to take off to go on a training mission with SAR Katherine Hanak in Gander NFLD Photo by Nova Andrews

“My dad was a dispatcher and my mom was an airline agent,” she said.

“So, I grew up as an airline kid.”


She called Only Up an inspiring film and how important the questions it asks are specifically, why are there not more girls and women in aviation.


“There are definitely barriers and some of them are systemic,” Ms. Long said.

 “A lot of them come from classmates, family members -- they come from society. In terms of young women who want to pursue careers in the aviation industry, they may be met with comments such as ‘Isn’t that going to be hard? Isn’t that going to be hard in a male dominated industry?’”


Women pilots are often asked by other individuals: “Don’t you want to have kids one day?” 

“It’s always so interesting because for a flight attendant people don’t ask them how they’re going to raise a family,” Ms. Long, who has been based in Winnipeg for the past 25 years after starting out with Perimeter Aviation, said.


“That’s always interesting to me. It is going to be a long time before we see the numbers coming up (for larger numbers of women pursuing careers in aviation) because society still places a high expectation on girls following traditional careers for women.”

Maj Zacher, an Air Operations Officer at Barker College, who is also the military ambassador for Elevate Aviation, said this was the first that she had seen the film.

“It was so well done,” she stressed.



Air Traffic Controller Emily Meyer looks out the window of the Ft. McMurray tower window. This was taken on the day she qualified as an air traffic controller. Photo by Kendra Kincade

“I enjoyed how she did the different trades—air traffic controllers, air maintenance engineers, pilot, the SAR Techs in the RCAF. The whole purpose in the film to excite not only young women, but young people in general to get into aviation. It is a welcoming industry.”


Maj Zacher started her career in the RCAF as an air traffic controller.

She trained as an Air Operations after “falling in love with the behind the scenes aspect” of the job.


“I’m a woman in the Air Force but also a member of the LBGT community,” she said.

“So, that adds an extra layer of potential issues. But, I’ve found just being able to show myself, my skills and my competency doesn’t matter who you are as long as you’re a good person doing a job and doing it well.”


Meanwhile, Ms. Fichtner, who is also an Air Reservist training officer at Air Cadets with 191 Squadron at West Winnipeg Rotary, said the film was “great.”

“As an engineer at Boeing we’re doing better with more females,” she said.

“Anything that I do is all male dominated. So, a lot of the storylines in the film resonated with me.”


Kristin Long, Maj Jacklyn Zacher, and Jessica Fichtner at the 17 Wing theatre Photo by Martin Zeilig

Only Up is streaming now on Super Channel, available through Apple TV Channels, Prime Video Channels, with your cable or satellite package, or through the Super Channel App.  

 

 

 

 

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